This study examined Census data to determine the long-term effects of the devastating 1997 Red River flood on the population of Grand Forks, North Dakota. I selected Census variables and developed hypotheses based both on existing disaster literature and fifteen in-depth interviews with Grand Forks residents. Analysis occurred through the construction of crosstabs that compared Grand Forks to Fargo and North Dakota in the years 1990, 2000 and 2010, in order to evaluate the percentage change in each Census variable relative to an analogous city and its home state. The crosstabs also included each of the City of Grand Forks' twelve Census tracts in order to assess how regions of the city differed in their demographic development following the flood. Results indicated that although Grand Forks did exhibit variations from Fargo and North Dakota in many of the crosstab variables, by 2010 most of Grand Forks' data had achieved equivalent rates of growth or decline to Fargo and North Dakota. A few variables were suggestive of long-term flood impacts however, specifically the percentage of individuals below the poverty line. Additionally, Census tract analysis revealed that tract proximity to the Red River appeared correlated with either increases or decreases with many variables. Overall, the study promoted both the case-study approach to disaster research and simultaneously advocated for considering natural catastrophes in a broader social and historical context.


Fitz Gibbon, Heather


Sociology and Anthropology


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Regional Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology, natural disasters, population, geography, social capital

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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